The Journey Of Parenting The Exceptional
Being pregnant with my daughter Magnolia was a breeze. They say girls take all of their mom’s beauty, but I glowed with her. She was my first baby, the long awaited first grandchild for my parents. You see, I was 31 when she was born. Magnolia commands attention wherever she goes so her birth was no different. She decided that Easter Sunday would be the best day for her grand entrance. 27 hours of natural labor, with no progress past 5 1/2 cm, and an emergency c-section later. Little Magnolia Rose finally arrived at 4:13am weighing 8lbs 9oz, and 21in long.
I gave the background of her birth, because the next 18 months went smooth with no out of the norm issues. She reached every milestone; she was also a very “good” baby. She would play by herself and could watch an entire Disney movie without losing interest. She rarely cried and was always smiling. Just a happy baby. However, she was not babbling. Did she make typical baby noises? Yes she did, but it was mostly a lot of squealing. My husband and bonus son are both introverts, I’m the extremely talkative one. So her not babbling wasn’t even really noticed.
Not until I kept my niece for 2 weeks.
During the 2 weeks I kept my 4 month old niece, I started seeing the differences between her and Magnolia. Especially when it came to interacting with us. My niece was giving us eye contact and babbling. My niece also sought out our attention while trying to mimic our behaviors and facial expressions. I expressed my concerns with my husband, and he had been noticing the same thing during our niece’s visit. So we made an appointment with our pediatrician.
I can admit now that I was desperate to find something wrong with her hearing rather than her have a developmental disorder. I took her to the ENT too many times, only for them to tell us nothing was wrong with her hearing. So our pediatrician recommended her for speech therapy.” After a couple of months of speech therapy with little to no improvement in her ability to speak to us, it was my mom who first brought up “Autism.”
Autism …. My first thoughts, “not my baby, she will talk when she gets ready.”
I know now that grieving is part of the process.
That every parent of a child who has an exceptionality goes through some form of grieving. It’s what we do after the grief that sets the pace to our journey of leading our exceptional babies through a world not made for them. We are their advocates and they are our hearts. They teach us patience and humility. True gifts given to strong parents. Everyday isn’t easy and everyday isn’t hard. Take one day at a time and enjoy the journey.
Stay tuned to read more about the different ways I have adapted and now thrive navigating this journey on the spectrum. How my week of grief bolstered and fortified me into becoming the advocate for my daughter that I was meant to be!